March 26, 2018 marked three years that the people of Yemen have been under a brutal bombing campaign and war, led by Saudi Arabia and with the support of the United States. Saudi fighter jets have indiscriminately bombed vital civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, hospitals, universities, mosques, refugee camps, funeral and wedding halls, markets, sanitation facilities, cultural centers and even historical sites. This has caused the deaths of more than 15,000 people and injured tens of thousands more. Alongside this inhumane bombardment, Saudi Arabia also has Yemen under a land, air and sea blockade, which severely limits Yemen’s ability to get desperately needed humanitarian aid. According to the United Nations, a record 22.2 million people (80% of the population) need humanitarian assistance, including 8.4 million people that are threatened by severe hunger. Three years of this devastation, where food, medicine and proper health facilities are scare, have resulted in Yemen facing the worst cholera outbreak on record with over 1 million recorded cases as per the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, an outbreak of diphtheria is on the rise.
The U.S. and Canada continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and their coalition. The National Post reported that in 2016 “Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. importer of Canadian-made military goods.” The government of Canada also has a $15 billion arm deal to supply Saudi Arabia with “light” armored military vehicles, which come equipped with heavy guns and a cannon.
While March 26 marked three years of war on Yemen, it was also marked with an international day of action, demanding an end to the Saudi-led war. Tens of thousands of people came out to the streets of Sana’a, Yemen to protest the war against them, despite the threat of Saudi airstrikes. Events and actions took place in other cities around the world, including in London, Paris, Boston, New York and Glasgow as well as in Ottawa and here in Vancouver, Canada.
In Vancouver, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) organized a public forum as part of this international day of action against the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war on Yemen. The event, held at the Vancouver Public Library in downtown Vancouver, started out with video clips that gave participants an overview of the last three years of Saudi bombings and war on Yemen, and the devastation caused to the people of Yemen. A video clip also showed the speech of Human Rights Defender Faris al Najim at the Ottawa protest against the Saudi war on Yemen, organized by the Yemeni community, in front of the house of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The MC of the event, MAWO chair Alison Bodine, then introduced the first speaker who was Shakir al Abeidi, a Yemeni-Canadian social justice activist, who gave an update on the current situation the people of Yemen are facing after three years of war and blockade. MAWO executive committee member and Tunisian social justice activist Azza Rojbi then spoke, giving an overview of the last three years and the support that the U.S. and Canada has given Saudi Arabia in this brutal war. The last speaker was Ali Yerevani, political editor of Fire This Time Newspaper, who was was a participant in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Ali spoke on the war on Yemen within the greater context of the new era of war and occupation. This new era has seen now over 17 years of wars and occupations throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as part of the U.S. strategy to gain hegemony over the region.
Following the speakers, participants took part in a discussion on the war on Yemen and the important role that the antiwar movement has to organize against it. The event closed with MAWO’s commitment to continue organizing, alongside the Yemeni community and the international network of individuals and organizations against the Saudi war on Yemen. For upcoming events and actions, visit www.mawovancouver.org or follow on Facebook or Twitter @MAWOVan.
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